There are many ‘how to’ books out there for writers but this is probably one of the most honest and uncensored ones out there. It doesn’t pretend to give any false hopes or patronising reassurances. Garant and Lennon in Writing Movies for (Fun and) Profit offer a raw and sometimes cynical look at the business of writing and Hollywood in general.
The honest advice is appreciated and it’s good to have an insight into what goes on in the world of a Hollywood writer, but at the same time it does strike me as too cynical. I mean, I get that not everyone is going to work on their dream projects and if you want to make money this is probably the best way to go about it, but they seem to take pride in writing standard comedy movies and I feel there probably is a way to at least aspire to something better. I mean, they seem happy writing what they write so more power to them and I would certainly love their level of success, but reading the book it almost feels like they’re saying that the only films that are made are mass market comedies, when that is clearly not true.
As for the advice they give, well, much of it is geared to Americans. The first piece of big advice they give is to move to Los Angeles and as someone who is living in the UK that’s not really feasible. Plus I’ve been to L.A. and it’s a dirty hole and if I don’t go back there it’ll be too soon.
The books is also peppered with free ideas for scripts and samples of outlines. The chapters are short so even though there are a lot of pages it’s a breeze to read, and I found myself skim-reading a lot. So I think there is some good advice here but I feel they do undercut the artistry a bit.